Christmas Closing Dates: Office Closing Friday 17th of December, Re-Opening on Monday 10th Janurary

Smarter Business With Solar Power

Green Energy Opens the Doors to Smarter Business

When local manufacturing on the Fraser Coast is discussed, the conversation often raises concerns about competitive pressure from offshore. Among the contributing factors for this, are the steady increases in energy costs, which continue to expand the operating costs for local versus offshore manufacturing.

Furthering this gap, is the way the electricity costs are calculated for businesses.

Business With Solar PowerWhile in many cases, “wholesale” or “bulk purchasing” is associated with discounted rates, local manufacturing often faces the opposite. Commonly, as demand for the manufacturers products increases, and energy usage follows, the tariff charged also increases.

This creates a double-edged sword for local manufacturing, increasing pressure on operating costs further as they grow.

Local Hervey Bay manufacturer, B&S Classic Doors, are only too well aware of the hefty power costs associated with majority of manufacturing operations in Australia.

With competition and demand as high as its ever been, B&S Classic Doors sought advice on products and strategies. As a result, local company, GCR Electrical Systems were engaged to advise on the potential solutions available.

Like many businesses in this situation, part of the challenge with tackling high energy costs, is being able to clearly understand what power is being used when during normal operations. This issue, was the first GCR Electrical Systems sought to address, “Why would any business continuously spend thousands of dollars not knowing how or completely understand where it’s going?” commented GCR Electrical Systems Director Gary Radke “The issue with energy costs is the highly common inability to perceive its value into a measurable form”

Post initial discussions, GCR Electrical Systems proceeded to install equipment which captured real-time electrical usage data. “Without this information, the ability to correctly advise and deliver an accurate result is like shooting a gun into murky water expecting a Red Emperor”

An ideal opportunity to save with solar power

To their advantage, the same large footprint of B&S Classic Doors facility, where the large amounts of power were being used, also provided the ideal roof area for a sizable solar installation.

By calculating both the energy used during daylight hours, and the available installation area, GCR was able to equip B&S to generate a significant portion of their power requirements via solar power.

The resulting installation, is comprised of 230, 300watt solar photovoltaic panels. This installation is calculated to save B&S Classic Doors operational costs by $22,000 – $28,000 per year.

With the returns this solution will provide it was merely a decision of how many panel the premises could efficiently fit. The outcome, a 69kw state of the art ‘micro-inverter’ solar PV system was installed and completed in Feb 2018, providing B&S Classic Doors to see a positive return on their investment by completion of 2022 (or 4 years).

As their system is comprised of high quality 300w photovoltaic panels and Enphase inverters, their investment is protected by a 10year Australian based warranty.


Tracking solar power production and savings

Another key factor in ensuring the power savings are realised, is provided via the system’s energy management software.

The tracking software, Enphase Enlighten, enables ongoing tracking of each of the 230 solar panels in the installation. Advantages of this, include being able to see when and how power is being used at any time of day, with a comparison against power produced by the solar panels.

This equips property owners, to have complete visibility of their energy consumption and production, ensuring that the best savings can be realised.

Technical Details

Location: B&S Classic Doors, Hervey Bay
Installer: GCR Electrical Systems
Installation: 69KW solar power system
Key components: 230 x 300W High Efficiency solar panels
230 x 270w Enphase Micro inverters.
Enphase Envoy
Enphase Enlighten – Online generation and energy management software
Anticipated annual power generation 113,300kwh
Estimated cost savings Approx $25,000/year

Like to assess options to reduce your energy costs? Contact GCR Electrical Systems today.

Solar Panel Replacement Subsidies Scrapped

What Changes to Solar Subsidies Means For You

The solar industry is set for some changes in 2018, as the government withdraws support from solar panel replacements, via its STC subsidies.

Now, more than ever, understanding the quality and warranty support behind your installation, will become an important factor in ensuring you will get the best returns from your solar system.

The change to solar panel subsidies

From 31st January 2018, replacement solar panels will not be eligible to receive any form of Government subsidies, aka STC’s (small-scale technology certificates).

This will also affect solar panels currently under warranty, including panels approved for STCs on new installations.

While this change does not directly affect new installations, it does put the full responsibility of warranty on the companies supplying and/or installing your system. Later in this article, we’ll give you a few tips on how to ensure you are adequately protected by the warranty being provided with your installation.

Why The Subsidy Is Being Removed

Up to now, the STC subsidies available on a new solar installation, also applied to any replacement panels.

This meant that some installation companies have been using low quality equipment, relying on the STC subsidies to reduce their warranty risk. In extreme cases, some installers were even using extremely cheap and low-quality panels, so they could make a profit on replacement panels.

The worst example of this, is in the reports that some companies were even using door knockers to persuade home owners to replace good panels, with low cost panels, allowing the company to claim the STCs on the cheap replacements.

Consequently, the STCs are being removed from panel replacements, and from February 2018, will only be available for new installations.

The benefit for you

As a homeowner, the last thing you want, is a system that’s the by-product of an installer’s greed, and so the removal of this subsidy, should help a few of these installers either go out of business, or be forced to massively change their practises.

So, while the removal of this subsidy could adversely affect those with low quality panels already installed, it does apply positive pressure to installers using an appropriately supported, quality panel in future installations.

In the short term however, a few less reputable suppliers could be caught out with low quality stock they want to clear. So, there could be some cheap panels going extra cheap… perhaps it worth remembering, “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is”.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to deal with established, reputable installers, who utilise well-supported panels and inverters in your solar installation.

What to look for when choosing a solar power system

A reputable solar installer, will happily guide you through this process and only recommend quality products, that are locally supported.

However, upon receiving recommendations from your installer, an important question is,
“How do you know if the panels and inverters being recommended, are not only right for you, but carry suitable warranty support?”

Here are a few keys factors to consider, when deciding on the right solar system for you:

#1 Does The Manufacturer Have an Australian Office and Local Support

Many cheaper or unsupported panels are imported directly, to reduce costs.

To ensure your panels have appropriate warranty support, the manufacturer should have an Australian office, with local support staff.
If buying through a larger installer, it’s worth checking too that they haven’t ‘direct imported’ their panels. Because, if so, the manufacturer may not be liable to honour the product warranties, leaving it up to the integrity and viability of the installer to carry the responsibility for the warranty.

#2 Have I Got The Written Warranty Information

It’s worth requesting the warranty information before you sign… if there’s any hesitation in supplying this, you should probably question why.

#3 Can Local Performance Data Be Supplied

Many of the better brands have verifiable, local testing data, which proves that the performance of the panels in Australian conditions.

Sadly, not everything in a brochure is true. As a result, independent testing, makes for a much better product comparison.

#4 Is It A Good Deal or A Cheap Product

We all like saving money and getting a good deal, but sometimes the most expensive choice is a cheap product.

Our Australian sun is great for producing solar power, but equally great at exposing weaknesses in poorly made panels.

solar panels installed on house near beach#5 Does This System Take Into Account The Installation Location

A big part of the reason GCR prefers to provide in-home assessments for your solar power system, is that the right system for you, will be influenced by your specific location.

If you live near the coast, your panels should be salt and ammonia resistant. Again, you want this to be independently tested, and included in your warranty.

Also, if there are large trees on your property, you’ll want to ensure your panels use quality, low-iron, tempered glass, with a minimum thickness of 3.2mm. In the event of sticks or branches falling on your panels, you don’t want an insurance excess gobbling up the savings on your power bill.

Get the right system and the right advice

Selecting your solar power solution is an important decision. Done correctly, and you’ll enjoy great savings on your power bills for many years to come.

To help you achieve this, GCR Electrical Systems, offers a free, in-home energy assessment, to home and business owners in Hervey Bay and surrounding areas.

This assessment, is designed to provide you with the very best options, for your budget and requirements, with some of the best warranties and local support available.

Especially with upcoming changes to solar rebates, we want you to enjoy a quality system, with the peace of mind that your investment is protected for many years to come.

Summary

From 31st January 2018, replacement solar panels will not be eligible to receive any subsidies from STCs.

While this provides a major disincentive to suppliers using low quality panels, homeowners also need to be aware of what to look for in purchasing their system, to ensure they are adequately protected in the event of needing to make a warranty claim.

To help ensure that you have the best options available to you, GCR offers a free in-home energy assessment to residents of Hervey Bay and surrounding areas. Should you wish to take advantage of this, you can call us on (07) 4194 2753

Is Professional Air Conditioner Cleaning Necessary

So, you love your air conditioning (don’t we all?), but you’re not sure about the idea of paying someone to clean it.

After all, if it appears to be working okay, is a professional clean really going to make any difference? … and, how much of the cleaning can you just do yourself?

Is there any need to clean your air conditioner?

What makes air conditioners ‘dirty’?

It’s commonly known that dust and mould around the home can cause a whole host of health issues. Those with skin conditions, allergies, hay fever or asthma will be particularly aware of this… but we all likely agree that minimising dust and mould is a good idea.

The problem with air conditioners, is that over time they can collect the dust and other contaminants and become a haven for bacteria, mildew and dirt to accumulate. Given much of this is hidden within the unit, it’s easy to overlook this progressive build up, allowing it to be blown throughout your home when your air conditioner is on.

Therefore, an air conditioner that isn’t kept clean, can reduce the quality of the air in your home. Given that air is quite important (aka essential) to us people, enjoying clean air in your home is definitely worthwhile… and a whole lot healthier.

Other reasons to clean your air conditioner

Ok, so clean air is good… but why else would you consider keeping your air conditioner clean and well maintained?

You can save on energy bills

If the coils inside your air conditioner are clean, the unit can more efficiently provide the cooling or heating you’re asking it to do. This reduced workload, equals less energy consumption, which saves you money

Helps your air conditioner last longer

Imagine you never serviced your car, you’d expect to eventually run into issues, wouldn’t you? … and your air conditioner is similar. By keeping your air conditioner well maintained, you’re not placing the extra stress on the compressor and other parts, that happens when dirt accumulates. This helps prevent issues, and in many cases, is also a warranty requirement.

Reduces the risk of foul odours

Any parent who’s had kids at school, has probably experience the smell that school bags tend to accumulate. Between forgetting to empty lunch boxes, and various other things, the school bag can over time, develop its own familiar scent. If any of your air-conditioned rooms are acquiring a ‘familiar’ smell, and there’s no school bags around, perhaps check the air conditioner.

It just works better

Of course, let’s not forget that the whole reason you have air conditioning, is so that you can decide what the climate should be like in your home. If you want to have a full roast dinner in the middle of summer (e.g. Christmas), your air con should make it enjoyable, and not have you feeling like you’re roasting.

If your air conditioning is well maintained, you can keep it running at its best, and help you keep your cool.

Do I need a professional to clean my air conditioner?

As you’ve seen, there’s several reasons to keep your air conditioner clean… but do you really need a professional to do the work?

Well, that depends on which part of the cleaning we’re talking about.

The things you can do to help get the best from your air conditioner include:

  • In most split systems, lifting the front cover (after turning off the power) will allow you to remove the front mesh filters. Once removed, they can be cleaned with warm soapy water (just make sure they’re fully dry before putting back into the unit). Ideally, you’d do this every few weeks.
  • A general wipe over the unit to remove dust at the same time is also a good idea.
  • For the outdoor unit, make sure the area around it is kept clear of dirt and garden debris. Don’t make your outdoor unit choke on dust, and you’ll benefit from cleaner air too.
  • Sometimes shrubs and grasses are quite good at invading your air conditioner’s personal space. They’re a bit funny about this, so best to also keep any surrounding foliage kept clear of the condenser unit.

Then there’s the things you want a professional for

On the inside of your air conditioner, there’s usually a filter drum and the coils, where the ‘work’ of cooling/heating and moving the air is done. As this is also where the electrical components are, it’s recommended to get this cleaned professionally.

Even if you’re only using your air conditioner occasionally, it’s best to get this done at least once a year. If unsure about what cleaning frequency is best for your requirements, feel free to give us a call.

Annual servicing of your air conditioning units is also important. This enables all the components to be checked, any leaks to be identified, etc. Being proactive in maintaining your air conditioner, can help you maximise the enjoyment and efficiency of your unit, with less chance of surprises later.

Need assistance with your air conditioners?

For any questions or assistance with maintaining your air conditioners, GCR provides a complete range of air conditioning services.

To get in touch, you can call us on (07) 4194 2753.

The Importance of Only Using Licensed And Insured Electricians

Perhaps there are times where you’ve looked at an electrical job and wondered whether you should use a licensed electrician, or do it yourself. On the surface, the attraction of ‘saving a few dollars’ may seem rather attractive.

With the help of Google and a YouTube video or two, you’ll even find all the instructional videos you need, that appear to give you what you need to know.

However, there are some important factors to consider, when entertaining who should be the one to work on your electrical repairs and installations.

Otherwise, what appeared to be a saving, could well become the opposite.

Safety For Yourself and Others

Electricity provides us with many modern conveniences, but handled poorly, can be extremely dangerous. Part of this danger, is that problems can be ‘invisible’ until they’re an issue. Sadly, some of those ‘issues’ can at a high cost to property or life.

To prevent potential issues, licensed electricians, follow a well-defined set of safety standards, procedures and regulations. Many of these are accompanied by legislation, which imposes penalties for non-compliance. This ensures that all electrical work should be not only safe for the home occupants, and done in a predictable way. This also protects other electricians and tradespeople you may call to work on your home in future.

You do a lot to ensure the safety of your family in so many other areas… electrical works are not an area to compromise on their safety.

The Benefit of Your Electrician’s Expertise

Like many areas, the trouble with attempting DIY electrical work is, “you don’t know, what you don’t know”. What may seem like a good or logical way to do things, could create inefficiencies or problems with overloading circuits, etc.

From selecting the right electrical equipment for your current and future needs, helping you prevent tripping circuits and early identification of potential hazards, your electrician’s expertise can help you save a lot of distress and wasted money in the long run.

Ensuring You’re Protected by Insurance (and not voiding yours)

Using a qualified electrician, provides additional benefits for you when it comes to insurance. As part of their licensing, your electrical contractor must be insured. This is to protect you, your property and anyone who uses the electrical systems or equipment on your property, in the event something goes wrong.

Further to this, your home insurance policy, likely requires that all electrical work be conducted by a licensed and insured electrician. In the event of a fire or accident, if the cause was linked to electrical work which wasn’t completed by a licensed electrician, your policy could potentially be void… leaving you effectively uninsured and out of pocket for the repairs.

In the event of a fire or accident, if the cause was linked to electrical work which wasn’t completed by a licensed electrician, your policy could potentially be void…

How to be Sure Your Electrician is Licensed and Insured?

To help ensure the electrical contractor you’ve got working on your home is suitably licensed, you can use the QLD Government’s Worksafe website.

This site also provides examples of what work requires which types of electrical license.

You can ask your electrician for their insurance certificate of currency. Particularly if your electrician does commercial work, this is something they’ll be asked for reasonably frequently. Consequently, they will likely be happy to provide the details on request.

In terms of GCR, we’re committed to ensuring that you receive quality electrical works and advice. If you’ve got any questions, we’d much rather a phone call, then have you unnecessarily risk the safety of you or your family.

Stay safe, be smart, and enjoy the peace of mind of only using a suitably insured and licensed electrician for your property.

What to do when the safety switch goes off

It always seems to happen as you’re rushing to get ready for work or when dinner is on the go, the safety switch goes off and most the electrical appliances in the house shut down.

Suddenly, the fridge clunks to a halt, the air conditioner switches off, and the TV goes blank. Something has tripped the safety switch, which, even though it doesn’t seem like it when you’re running out the door in a half ironed shirt, is actually a good thing.

It means this essential home electrical safety device has potentially prevented a fatal accident. Safety switches activate in around .03 of a second cutting the supply of electricity to the circuit fast enough to prevent serious harm from an electric shock.

Reasons your safety switch might trip

The safety switch is triggered by a detected change in the flow of electricity through the circuit it is fitted to (in most homes it’s fitted to the power point circuit). Many problems can cause this change in flow, common issues can include:

  • overloaded power sockets or power boards
  • an appliance fault
  • faults your home wiring
  • water in the walls or ceiling affecting the power circuit – Usually after heavy rain,  a leaking pipe in a wall cavity or sometimes even a sprinkler hitting an outdoor power point.

What to do

The safety switch tripping can be a nuisance but the fix is usually fairly straight forward.

  1. Try to reset the switch by flicking it back to the ON position. Sometimes the issue is temporary and the safety switch will reset easily. However, if the problem is recurring get a licenced electrician to take a look at it.
  2. If the switch does not reset unplug all the appliances (if on the power circuit) or turn off all lights (if on the light circuit). Appliances must be unplugged, simply turning off at the power point is not enough. Don’t forget the hidden power points like the one behind the fridge, washing machine, or dishwasher as well as any outdoor appliances which may be plugged in.
  3. Reset the switch. If the safety switch still fails to reset avoid touching it and any electrical systems and call a licenced electrician as soon as possible.
  4. Once the switch is reset, plug your appliances back in one at a time. Usually, the faulty appliance will cause the safety switch to trip once it’s plugged in and turned on clearly identifying the culprit.
  5. Make sure that power points that could be experiencing overload are not reconnected. Spread the appliances across several sockets or ask your electrician to install a new power point.
  6. For your safety do not use the faulty appliance until it has been checked and fixed by an appliance repair technician.

As we mentioned above if your safety switch trips regularly get it checked out by your electrician to ensure it’s working correctly and providing protection for your family from electrical accidents.